“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 2:29)
As I initially began this series on the Jezebel Spirit, I mentioned there were things I believe the Lord was showing me about the “church.” I have left these major points until the end as led by the Holy Spirit; I believe the Lord wanted to reveal hard truths to people about what actually resides in the spirit realm so what this series ends with, wouldn’t seem so far fetched. The above verse from Revelation comes after a stern warning to the churches calling out the spirit of Jezebel lurking in the hearts and minds of people, while calling themselves “the church.” God isn’t warning, he is threatening Jezebel’s pawns what will happen if they do not cast her out.
This same warning bell is being rung in the spirits of the prophetic voices the Lord has called forth today, to be his mouthpiece. My prayer is if enough of His true servants relay messages the Spirit of the Lord is sending with urgency, people will finally awaken to the truth: the “church” needs to die to self. Many pastors are calling for a revival of God’s people so they may return to the Great Commission, whereas in the same breath these pastors are asking people to reach deeper into their pockets to enlarge the “church.”
It may develop there, but within the confines of a building is not where revival begins folks…it begins in the hearts of men and women, then catches fire in the world by being spread by those whom the Holy Spirit has touched. How Great is our God, Amen!
In May and June of 2016, I had been hearing from the Lord in fresh new ways. My senses were heightened. For the longest time I had been receiving the same message about church membership being a man-made Thing of the church. No where (and I repeat no where) in the Bible is it stated we are to commit ourselves to a church building/community via membership. I have studied and studied the Word, sought the Lord repeatedly, asked my own pastors to point it out to me…it is not to be found. I had never discussed it with any of my mentors but lo and behold, this topic came up during a phone call in the Spring of 2016 with my spiritual mentor and her husband: they too struggled with this concept of “membership” and were not led to engage.
Brothers and sisters, this is no lie! If you have never searched for yourself, I urge you to stop falling into such deception and study the Word of God on the topic, for yourself.
I wondered, as I began seeking a new place of worship last year, if churches without membership requirement actually exist. Imagine my relief after being led to several such places of worship here in my city, one of which I’ve been attending since last fall. This particular church has a three week covenant class they lead people to, consisting of the history and present story of this church body, outlining how the congregation is to treat one another (at least while on church grounds) – with love and respect and absolutely no gossip; additionally, they ask people to participate in a spiritual gifts test to assist new congregants in finding their area of service. (I opted out of this – I don’t believe it is up to a man made test to determine our spiritual gifts, rather the divine leading of the Holy Spirit. (See 1 John 2:27) I will say the presence of God is heavy in this place of worship; He is alive and moving! It is a beautiful experience.
Church membership is idolatry of a church building, a pastor and making one self important because membership is exclusive. Since when has “church” been exclusive; it is supposed to be inclusive to anyone who is there seeking the Lord’s face. This is a rather important way the Jezebel spirit has infiltrated the church. With membership comes a spirit of entitlement. I received several confirmations of this reoccurring “thought.” First, through the Holy Spirit himself, second, from the conversation with my mentors and lastly, I was gifted a copy of, The Harlot Church System, by Charles Newbold, Jr.
In his book Newbold (a pastor turned atheist, turned hard core Christ follower) states, “This Thing we call church can be one such extension of ourselves. It is one of those things we go after in our hearts because we love it so. That is to say, we love the works of our hands and the imaginations of our hearts that are expressed in that Thing we call church…It is an extension of us. Therefore, we are serving ourselves when we serve it.”
He goes on to give historical accounts of great movements of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people to “save, heal, and deliver them throughout the history of the institutionalized church systems…A few churches have experienced what they call renewal. God is filling the lamps of those willing to be prepared with enough oil to go the distance when that last trumpet sounds….If the Holy Spirit is present in your church, He is not present to bless your idolatries, but to prepare a people unto Himself. He is preparing His bride. He has to go into these illegitimate places we call the church to prepare her so He can take her out.” (pp 35)
“Many of these church Things were originally started to meet the needs of people but soon became ends within themselves. Many of the institutions have become profit-driven instead of service-driven…we may devise programs in the name of evangelism and market ourselves in such a way so as to corral more folks-to rope, throw, and brand them with our special mark, to clone them like us. Yet, we want to stand out from the other churches in town…We stress the necessity of church membership and regular attendance …thereby communicate the subtle message that we are saved by these Things. We are considered unscriptural if we do not go to church.” (pp 38)
From personal experience, I have worshipped the Lord and had the Holy Spirit fall upon me just as mighty, if not more freely, in the privacy of my home or car. I sometimes feel restricted by the rigidity of church but that doesn’t mean I do not believe it is important to participate in a community of believers and “church” is often how we meet and get to know other believers, therefore it most definitely has it’s place and may even be necessary for us to propigate the cause of Christ…just not as it often transpires. I believe this is why many churches now encourage small home groups or life groups…so there is less emphasis on the church building being the end all to church life.
Our Own, Personal, Jesus
There is one other point the Holy Spirit keeps urging me to drive home and that is on the topic of corporate worship. (Most know it as praise and worship.) King David, the ultimate worshipper, had it so right…he worshipped the LORD with such abandon at one point in his life people thought he was nuts. (I presume this is an early picture of how infectious the Spirit of the Lord can be!) It was pure worship, truly from the heart. When it was just David and God, he wasn’t entertaining anyone. In the moments he was asked to play an instrument such as the harp for King Saul, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and it was as if no one else existed for that short moment in time. I pray that you have had such an amazing time of worship with the Lord! If not, I encourage you to work on this aspect of your relationships with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. One doesn’t have to be in a church building to experience such intimacy!
As mentioned above, my own personal experience is sort of like time with my own, personal, Jesus! Singing and dancing before him without a care for what it looks or sounds like. Jesus doesn’t care as long as we are engaging with him and offering up our love and gratitude to him as a sweet offering. Sitting down to write, is also a form of worship because it allows Him to take residency within our mind; to become one with God’s thoughts and desires.
Church worship often seems like entertainment as does attending concerts put on by some of the big names in Christian music. Being a musician stating this is difficult for me because music has always been an integral part of my composure and outward life. Do I believe that the Holy Spirit inspires the lyrics, yes, absolutely. However, what people do with it after being inspired, I worry about! I understand the music industry. I know that in order to sell out a huge arena, a band or musician must have money behind them. Usually, such backing in the entertainment industry comes with moral compromise.
So many people yearn for an “authentic” experience when they attend concerts and as a worship leader or musician, it is our responsibility to God to ensure these experiences stay about Jesus and leading people to Him; about being a witness to what He does in our lives…not about money, or fame or how important it makes a person feel in front of a crowd. Worship is inner-sensory not extra-sensory! Less of “me” more of Him!
God’s presence is all that is needed. Crazy light shows and video streaming isn’t necessary if worshipping the Lord is the goal because He alone is magnificent. His miracle can be found in the hearts being opened and touched by his presence; by Jesus’ love flooding the room because people are there seeking His face! God wants to welcome those seeking him and provide them with a pure encounter.
I’ve been to some concerts that rivaled shows out in the world with the effects, stunts and not so godly dancing and movement! Jezebel, the harlot…she waits in every dark corner and the arts are a breeding ground for her wickedness. Hallelujah that there is a huge movement in the art world where many Christians have been called to take the arts back for God. I am so excited and humbled to be part of it! (Heck, even die hard hikers are proclaiming the name of Jesus from the mountaintops, as they break records, or capture his beauty through photography, taking back His beautiful creation!)
The heart of man
At the end of the day brothers and sisters, we must be more diligent in understanding the difference between what God would put out into the world, and the enemy. The earth and her citizens are in a very dark place on so many spectrums. Many Believers feel the time for Jesus to return is near. I once had that sense of urgency but I believe where the Lord has me sitting, presently, is more helpful – waiting instead of anticipating as scripture instructs. Trust me, in the waiting there is peace. In the waiting, God is leading people to work on His behalf. It is where he finds those willing voices in the wilderness, in the church – bringing people the truth of the Word. While at the same time being vigilant in fine tuning our ability to hear His voice and discern both his Spirit and will.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…” (Romans 10:10)
Father God, I pray you will pour out the fire of your Spirit down unto every Believer so they may discern the absolute Truth of your Word and your Son. We know you are desperate for our attention and every Believer needs to be desperate for yours! We need to seep ourselves in your true presence, your blinding light, so we might lay down the deception of the spirits of religion, Jezebel and Lucifer and live in authentic Christ-likeness, even when it’s not “pretty and acceptable” to the rest of the world. Yank the blinders off Father God! Show us your glory, rain down your love so it purifies our minds, hearts and souls, for your use Father. You are THE one true source of life to which every man and every woman needs to yield, submit to and obey. Help us learn to filter out the darkness so we might shed more of your light into the world. Give us the mind of Christ so we may do only Your will. Help us in this never ending battle between the principalities. On earth as it is in heaven, Lord…help us usher your Kingdom down to earth! We praise you LORD GOD for your power and glory, forever! Amen.
A confession: I don’t know anything for certain, other than what I read in the Bible; this includes receiving revelation – I always seek the Word for confirmation. Rarely do I allow people whose walks I’ve not witnessed to speak into my life. I definitely will not take a “word” from people I know aren’t living in alignment with the Word of God.
I know God as intimately as I can at this stage of my walk but seek Him/His heart diligently, daily. I do not attend church hoping to get fed, I attend for that sense of community (especially now) and to know I am not alone in this crazy world. If I go and receive something, that’s amazing! However, we must be open to receiving or we will not hear! I attend church because I choose to, not because I feel I must. It helps me be accountable for my actions and connect with others who love and serve Him. Much of the same reason I’ve been led to serve in street ministry for the past year.
I do church from home on Sundays when I’m too exhausted to get myself together or sense He has other plans for me that day. I do church throughout the week via the Internet. I love that God is taking back and using technology/the Internet for His glory! Let us all do things which bring Him glory and shuts down the Lucifer and Jezebel spirits roaming about like a thief in the night, waiting to steal, kill and destroy God’s people! God is greater than any force because He is sovereign! Please, I encourage you to usher Him into every detail of your lives!